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The Black Sun / Die Schwarze Sonne - Dir Rudiger Sunner - English Subtitles




This version of the film, with english subtitles, has not been previously available online. Please distribute.

H-NET FILM/DVD REVIEW
Published by H-German@h-net.msu.edu (June, 2010)

Rudiger Sunner, dir. "Black Sun: The Mythological Background of
National Socialism." Brooklyn, ICARUS Films, 2009 [1997]. DVD.Color.
90 minutes.

Reviewed by Mary Catherine Lawler, Rutgers University

Shedding Light on Nazi Myths

In Rüddiger Sünner's 1997 film _Black Sun: The Mythological Background
of National Socialism_, now available on DVD, Sünner's omnipresent
voice-over outlines National Socialists' fascination with myths,
legends, and symbols of the supposedly oldest, most superior of all
races--the Aryan clan. As Sünner clearly demonstrates, the Nazis
misconstrued, often consciously or without interest in facts, these
bases for their ideological claims to racial superiority. The Nazi
claim to these myths went beyond an appropriation of earlier people's
foundational tales. In the Nazi (re-)tellings, the original figures
and stories become unrecognizable. There was no attempt to research
either scientific or anthropological evidence that would prove an
unbroken ancestral chain from dominant, half-god forerunner--whose own
superiority would supposedly legitimate the Nazis' right to racial
hatred.

Sünner highlights the hypocrisy inherent in the development of the
Nazi Party, including a detailed explanation of how Nazis asserted the
existence of "half-races." As Sünner demonstrates, Nazis believed that
an Aryan race existed as half-gods. This status positioned them as
having unique power and knowledge inaccessible to other peoples or
races. Meanwhile, based on an ahistorical assumption from a medieval
belief, the Jewish people, also considered half-beings, were
criticized for supposedly being an "inferior race." The most subtle
and intelligent aspect of Sünner's film is his argument for a
subconscious, psychological target in the German people--a sort of
buried collective consciousness that longed for a return to such
mythological origins.

The pinnacle of the film lies in the sequences of modern Germans
gathering at the "Externsteinen." These five looming rock
structures--the largest over thirty-seven meters high--represent an
important part of myths of a clear German heritage. These myths
glorify their presence throughout multiple periods of German and
so-called Germanic history: their assumed use in pagan rituals; their
role as a fortress in the Middle Ages; Heinrich Himmler's
identification of them as a national site of German pride; and, more
recently, the multiple audiences who visit the site--from tourists to
neo-Nazis. Here Sünner remarks carefully that one might see a parallel
between the German state of mind shortly before the rise to power of
the SS, and contemporary ideologies. He renders almost tangible the
nostalgic desire for a history full of heroes fighting for good and
justice, and the need to create an imaginary enemy in order to do so.
This documentary thus juxtaposes the polarization in German national
history between an obsession with capturing light in all its symbolic
uses in order to battle the "darkness" of the Other. The final lesson
that _Dark Sun_ implies--and what makes it a provocative and
interesting film for a number of audiences, whether scholars and
students of history, film studies, or iconography--is the danger of
not knowing one's own history. In this sense, the title signals not
only the recurrent theme of evil throughout history, but also the need
to shed light upon all its manifestations.

Citation: Mary Catherine Lawler. Review of Sunner, Rudiger, dir.,
_Black Sun: The Mythological Background of National Socialism_.
H-German, H-Net Reviews. June, 2010. URL:
http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=30388


Run time 89 minutes 59 seconds
Audio/Visual sound, color

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